Opinion

EDITORIAL – Another poll postponement

EDITORIAL – Another poll postponement

In a democracy, elections are the ultimate manifestation of people power. Public officials need a mandate from the people, which must be refreshed regularly, within a period set by law.

For some reason, Congress and Malacañang keep tinkering with the period for the election of barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan or youth council officials. The regular postponement of the village and SK elections has fueled speculation that lawmakers are using the issue to get support from the barangay officials and youth councilors in their turfs.

Resetting the barangay and SK polls is becoming routine, and it looks like it isn’t going to be different under the current 18th Congress. The two chambers of Congress are supporting the postponement of the barangay and SK polls scheduled in May next year, although they have yet to agree on the new date. The House of Representatives wants the elections in May 2023 while the Senate prefers December 2022.

If such postponements are done with regularity, legislators should just amend the law to give the affected officials longer terms. Better yet, they should review the roles played by barangay and SK officials.

The funding for SK can be better utilized for public health care and education – two sectors that are seeing significant cuts in their appropriations under the proposed national budget for 2020. Lawmakers should seriously consider the abolition of the youth councils. If there are youths who want training for government service, it should not be at the expense of taxpayers. Youths are also not lacking in representation in Congress.

As for the barangays, their powers and functions especially in raising funds need a review. Barangay personnel share the blame for the proliferation of squatters, and for the weak delivery of basic services in their villages. Several barangay captains and other personnel have been implicated in drug trafficking, with a number of them among those shot dead in the war on drugs. They have been linked to illegal vending rackets, unauthorized collection of parking fees, protection of human trafficking and other criminal activities. The law that gave them the powers that they are abusing must be revisited.